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22 January 2008 @ 12:10 pm
SCC and temporal mechanics  
My computer held off dying for longer than I expected, but the day's coming pretty rapidly. Yep. *sigh* It's all but impossible to look at pics -- only pure white screens are even tolerable.

Anyway, last night's Sarah Connor Chronicles made me rather thinky.

Minor spoilers.

First of all: Sarah's voice over says something about how the first test of the atomic bomb was "outside the mountains of Los Alamos." This is bullshit, unless your value for "outside" includes three hundred miles away at Alamagordo, which Sarah would freakin' KNOW. Way to research a basic fact, SHOW! FAIL. Way to irritate a native New Mexican in the first minute of the teaser.

But thumbs up to John behaving more like John of the future, trying to get the info of what kind of AI Andy was building.

Speaking of, I didn't think Sarah would kill Andy, but her solution was clever enough to avert that particular possibility of Andy's chess AI from becoming Skynet. It wasn't, but she wasn't sure, so she had to do something without going overboard. So, yay, Sarah for finding an alternative. And how cute she was (trying to) flirt with him and pump him for information. (though really, the cell phone thing was a bit much -- I had a not-very-small cellphone in the 90's and there were big honkin ones even earlier).

The scientist dude with the Cromarty terminator was even more creeptastic than the Terminator itself. I was kind of rooting for the terminator to kill him, but even not-too-bright robots can figure out the value of a Renfield, I guess.


BUT that was not what I came to post about, not really.

I spent entirely too long last night trying to sleep and tracing out temporal mechanics. This SHOW! *squishes time paradoxes and AU's*

At first I thought it was a bit strange and anticlimactic. I was watching and thinking, "But I know where Skynet is born -- Kate Brewster's dad". But once I pondered it a little more, I don't think that's true. The overall impetus of the franchise, supported by John's mention of the Singularity, is that Skynet/Judgment Day is INEVITABLE. In Sarah and John's Universe it will ALWAYS happen, because John is born from a man from the future. In order for John to exist, Skynet must also exist. Therefore they are trapped in a loop. They can put Judgment Day off, switch Skynet's creators to other people, but it'll still happen.

Unfortunately for John, a Terminator coming back from the future and killing him, isn't part of the same recursive loop. John doesn't have to survive, the same way that Skynet HAS to be created. Skynet can exist without John (or at least so Skynet must assume), but John cannot exist without Skynet.

The interesting corollary to this is that it's possible that if the first Terminator (T1) had not been sent back to kill Sarah or if he had succeeded in his mission (there should be an AU created by the possibility of his success; in fact, without Reese she probably would've been killed), there would be the possibility of a 'verse without Skynet. The curious question is whether killing John after he exists also allows for that possibility to open up again (say, John is killed but Sarah continues on to destroy all attempts at remaking Skynet, can Judgment Day now be prevented?); or if his mere existence locked that end result into this particular timestream.

It's not quite as tight a loop as the Babylon 5 causal loop -- there Sinclair had to go back himself to the past to ensure that events he took part in back then, which created his own existence, would happen. But it's pretty damn tight.

And depressing. Because it means John and Sarah CAN'T win. Not in the present.

Bummer. I hope they don't figure that out, or my view of the time paradoxes is wrong, because that just sucks for them.

Although on second thought, the only reason Skynet sent the Terminator in the first place, was because John managed to defeat Skynet in the future.

So then the question shifts: as much as Skynet will happen for John - is Skynet's defeat ultimately locked as well? Obviously Skynet doesn't think so, it wants the inevitability of its existence without that pesky human ruining things. But perhaps in trying to mess with time in this way, it's also dooming itself to failure.


But it did make me think of Future!John, having to send back his own father to the past TO DIE. (somebody's written this right? I should go check yuletide) But Present!John has a long way to go before he gets to that.

but he will apparently turn into Christian Bale in the future, so it's not all bad...

And this is so strange about Heath Ledger. Given his make-up for the Joker and the suddenness of the death, I'm reminded very strongly of the death of Brandon Lee on the Crow (albeit this isn't on set, but I wonder how much ADR and such he was still supposed to do). It's that same sort of HUH? feeling.

And to think just last weekend I was reading a magazine which was talking up the buzz on Dark Knight as well as a retrospective of Lee's death....
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Mayhem Parva: (ls-silence) Kara Sam tattoosraincitygirl on January 23rd, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
Excellent, excellent points about hte time loop. I like your thinky thoughts.
lizardbeth: Agathonslizardbeth_j on January 23rd, 2008 06:43 am (UTC)

I tried to think of a way to diagam it, but it got messy.
mrsdrjacksonmrsdrjackson on January 23rd, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
Someone else who watches this show and thinks of these things! *glee* Must be the Stargate influence. :P

I think that Sarah's solution was the right one for the moment, but it isn't going to work in the long run. All of his knowledge is still there, in his head. You can't just get rid of the work when the mind behind it still remains.

Because it means John and Sarah CAN'T win. Not in the present.
I think you're def right, and I wonder: Are they meant to win? I think that the struggle to defeat Skynet before it is created is in part what makes John the leader he will one day have to be. You can already see flashes of it, especially in the last episode. (I haven't actually seen the other two mind you.)

YAY for shows that make you thinky! :D

And re:Heath. I was also reminded of Lee's death when reading about Heath's. It leaves a hole in the tiny space left in my heart for Hollywood. Obviously there is something foul in that world to make people do this to themselves (whether accidental or on-purpose, I still blame the lifestyle of the movies) and their families. His poor daughter...
lizardbeth: Sarah Connorlizardbeth_j on January 23rd, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
oh, Stargate piffle. They are johnny-come-latelies. *g*

But re: Sarah's act in torching the house. yOu're right that she didn't destroy his knowledge, but that's already out of the bottle. That was, I think, the point of the Bomb Daddies in the framing device. IIRC it was Edward Teller who said: "the greatest secret of the nuclear bomb is that it's possible." Meaning once you know that - as you and I and everybody else in the world knows - anybody with the right technical skills can build one. Implication being the same for the AI system that Andy built - the knowledge that it's possible is was already out there.

And my time theory just adds to that. It's the futility of being stuck inside a paradox - it almost doesn't matter whether Andy can rebuild his AI or not, someone else will build another one. Because the universe itself will push outcomes that lead to Skynet's creation.

But you're right that Sarah and John's struggle is what's going to enable him to win in the future. So Skynet is definitely sowing the seeds of its own destruction.

Can you imagine the RTF arriving to Earth in the middle of the war against Skynet? That could be awesome, especially if the Cylons are allies of Galactica by that time. Raiders vs Hunter Killers, Centurions vs T-100's. *geekgasm*
mrsdrjacksonmrsdrjackson on January 24th, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC)
Too true. Plus, her actions might have just pushed him away from further experimentation with AI. So, for now at least, she doesn't have to kill him.

It's better when the characters are stuck in a paradox and they don't know about it. Well, better for us anyways. Much more entertaining. They just keep on bashing their heads against the inevitability of doom that they are fighting against. Good times, good times...

Right now John is trying to be a good person, a hero. I don't blame him for this, but he's going to have to endure some hard lessons. These events will push him to become a leader which is what the world needs in order to win.

OMG *geekgasm* Someone needs to fic this!
Your brain is a cross-over playground, isn't it? :P So many fun ideas...
ellestraellestra on January 27th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
You have a very good point – this is very similar to what I thought and how I understand time paradox thing. They are in a time loop. It already happened.

There’s also other thing that makes all this futile. Especially burning Andy’s computer (and house). It’s a matter of available technology. If it is possible to achieve some advancement, make some invention, somebody will do it. It’s like with cloning. If technology is there, somebody will make the invention.
Sarah can’t stop it by random acts of violence. She doesn’t have power nor resources to go after everyone doing AI research. Especially if any geek can built one at home.

And I don’t like the assumption that singularity event has only one outcome.
Singularity isn’t about computers being able to make better versions of themselves. In a way they already do. Singularity is technology so advanced, intelligence so surpassing our own we cannot even imagine what it would think and what it would be able to do. Assuming that it must go for a war with humanity is assuming it must be hostile by the very fact of existing. I’m not saying friendly necessarily but maybe just indifferent - why would it want to waste time bothering about us.
But we discussed that before :)

I also mind the faulty reasoning that all and any AI will become Skynet.
Original Skynet was a military system that gained consciousness and when humans wanted to disconnect it, it retaliated by launching nuclear attack. Not chess playing computer. Who knows maybe it would turn out to be like Joshua (War Games). This is after all based on completely different technology – after all Skynet came from the loop too – he was based on T800 chipset from the future. I’m still waiting for them finding out he is sending terminators to blow themselves up to seed the past with technology.
lizardbeth: Sarah Connorlizardbeth_j on January 28th, 2008 06:11 am (UTC)
They did sort of try to make it that it wasn't just ANY AI, that Andy built - he talked about it having moods, and that part of the code came to him in a dream, so it was 'special' somewhat, and that's what Sarah was reacting to. When she thought it was just good at chess it didn't matter.

But yes, I agree that the tech level makes it also sort of futile. The episode's framing device of using the nuclear bomb fathers reminded me of something else one of them said (er, I think it was Teller) -- "the only real secret about a nuclear bomb is that it's possible." If Andy can do it (assuming he didn't learn all THAT much as Cyberdyne), another can too. And Sarah's not going to be able to stop scientists in Japan or France or wherever.

But, OTOH, in Sarah's defense, if Andy's project was developed and 'published' it could (and in Sarah's 'verse probably WOULD) be coopted by the military. Therefore it'd be part of SKynet, just by virtue of being the same technological base.

Hm, COULD John (or Sarah or anybody) decide NOT to try to shut down Skynet? So that it wouldn't retaliate? Paradox says no, that it's going to happen. Certainly John with his knowledge of what's going to happen, would never take the risk that Skynet WON'T drop bombs, so he's always going to try to stop it... But if he figures out that he's trapped in a paradox, maybe he could try to do nothing.
ellestraellestra on January 28th, 2008 06:40 am (UTC)
Well if it’s to be an AI it should be able to do more then it was programmed to do.
I just meant that if he was able to build it at home from commercially available components then anybody could do it. Or it could just emerge from internet. It’s not a matter of scientists but of the level of technology. Just as you said it was with nuclear fission – it may happen few years later but somebody will do it. Heisenberg chose not to make it for Hitler. Still it got made somewhere else.
All she(we) can do is to make sure it’s going to be friendly. They have a chance – they have their own AI – just make it spread (and maybe humanize it bit more).
I don’t know what that would do to time loop – maybe Skynet would emerge anyway – military response to unknown AI taking over the net. Then however humans would have powerful ally. And much better chance to win.